A fourth human rights action plan was issued on 10 Sep 2021. In tandem with ‘common prosperity’, human rights is enlisted as an umbrella term to explain the new rules affecting most sectors of PRC society. Human rights are defined as an entitlement, granted from above, to live a decent life and enjoy economic development. Party journal Qiushi cites these as the two basic human rights granted in the PRC.
‘Code Red for humanity’, as UN Secretary General António Guterres has labelled the latest IPCC report (9 Aug 2021), has again thrust the urgency of global cooperation to mitigate climate change into the limelight. Emitting a whopping 3 percent of greenhouse gases, ships are in service for decades. ‘Greening’ their design and construction cannot be delayed if the goals set for mid-century are to be met.
State researchers, whose incomes have long lagged those of their private sector peers, reacted positively to new reforms to funding and evaluation announced by State Council. Experts are also calling for a further increase in funding for blue sky research, not least stable, long-term funding. Many state-owned and private businesses long benefitted from policy support, and are now urged to back state-funded research.
The 2nd 5-year plan to establish ‘law-based’ government appeared on 11 Aug 2021. Building on signature themes of Xi Jinping, it claims to add coherence to long-term state initiatives proclaiming a more predictable and credible policy environment.
The new plan, in contrast, underlines local officials’ lifelong accountability with central institutions and agencies holding sway across all potential issues from the micro to the macro level.
Xi Jinping announced the summoning of the Sixth Plenum of the 19th Party Congress in November, to review ‘significant achievements and experiences’. The Party has previously held such exceptional plenums, each heralding an ideological shift. In this case the point is to prepare the ground for the 20th Party Congress in 2022, which is expected to clear the path for Xi to continue pushing his reform agenda.
Beacons for foreign investment and knowhow, and catalysts for reform, industrial zones are now being re-purposed to serve the rising paradigm of dual circulation.
Zones, suggests the 14th 5-year plan, are to focus less on attracting FDI and more on ensuring domestic supply chains are fail-safe. New criteria rate domestic zones by their deftness in competing less, and collaborating more.
Highlighting ‘common prosperity’ in a speech at the 10th Central Financial Commission meeting on 17 Aug 2021, Xi Jinping also stressed combating financial risks as a priority in H2. In a subsequent study session, Guo Shuqing 郭树清 CBIRC (China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission) chair and PBoC (People’s Bank of China) Party chair discussed monetary and financial policy’s relation to ‘common prosperity’.
Acting on high-level rumblings that warn against ‘disorderly expansion of capital’, Beijing ended the tolerance that had grown up around the tech sector. Probes into Tencent, one of the recent massive casualties, stunned investors, for whom the social media giant had cred as a deft handler of Beijing. The size of the penalties suggest that official consensus has yet to be reached on Tencent’s role as sheep or wolf.
With the national goals for peaking carbon and reaching neutrality set for 2030 and 2060, industries and localities must find ways to get there. Accounting for some 15 percent of emissions nationwide, steelmaking will be a critical battlefield. Central and local SOEs dominate the sector; steel firms are deeply entrenched in local politics and economies, creating ‘games of interest’ in regulating the industry.
Making income and wealth distribution equitable should replace economic growth as a policy target, Xi Jinping told the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission, 17 August. Downplaying egalitarianism, ministers of finance, social security and rural affairs proposed taking a gradualist approach to strengthening the middle-income population, and encouraged local trials led by Zhejiang (see cp. signal).
Massive investment is clearly on the cards in the rural sector. This reflects Beijing’s realisation of the sector’s potential as a new catalyst of domestic demand. Yet MARA (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) forecasts a C¥7 tn funding gap in rural development over the next five years, which will inhibit the development of modern ag production, rural infrastructure and rural industry.
Beijing is acting on its warnings against ‘disorderly expansion of capital’, bursting the bubble that has been around the tech sector. Recent weeks have seen online music, food delivery, after-class tutoring and online gaming in retreat, one after the other.